Harris County's New Marijuana Diversion (it's not quite legal yet)
Harris County's new Misdemeanor Marijuana Diversion Program (MMDP)
While Marijuana isn't legal in Harris County, the consequences are significantly reduced with the recent announcement of the new policy. This program is slated to kick off on March 1 in about 10 days. The gist of this program is that people who get caught with a misdemeanor amount of weed, up to a quarter pound, will not be arrested and will not be charged if they complete a 4 hour class and pay $150 in program expenses...and, yes, the cops will take your stash.
The mechanics of this policy seem to be:
1) Person gets busted by cops with weed.
2) If person is eligible, more on that in a minute, then they will be given instructions to participate in MMDP.
3) Cops take the weed and let the person go. No arrest or charges filed.
4) Person avoids getting arrested or charged with any other crimes.
4) Person pays $150 and takes 4 hour class about "decision making" within 90 days.
5) The end.
The criteria for eligibility are:
1) Have ID or identity is verifiable
2) Not in a school zone or jail
3) Not on bond or probation
4) Don't have a gun
5) Not violating any other law other than tickets
6) They don't think you are a dealer
If a person is eligible but fails to take the class, he or she will be subject to arrest and charges if the cops get around to writing an affidavit and doing the work required to file the case. (We'll see how often that happens.)
Here is the DA's publication on the program for reference:
This is definitely good news for people who enjoy weed. It is important to note that this does not mean weed is legal. There are still some big pitfalls that people could find themselves in due to a misunderstanding of this program and its exclusions. I'll do a couple follow up posts about those issues in the near future.